Vaishnavi Ghode, a student of Vidya Vikas school whose father works as a driver, says she dreams of becoming an engineer. (Express Photo)
AS MANY AS 18 students of schools run by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), who have secured more than 90 per cent in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams, results of which were declared on Friday, will be awarded a cash prize of Rs one lakh each. Private school students scoring the same percentage will get Rs 15,000 each. Civic activists have, however, termed the move “discriminatory”, saying that economic background, not schools, should be the criterion for awarding students.
Every year, the PCMC awards Rs one lakh to students of civic schools who have scored more than 90 per cent in SSC exams, while a cash prize of Rs 50,000 is awarded to those securing between 85 and 89 per cent. S Ambavane, superintendent, PCMC Secondary School Office, said, till Saturday, as many as 18 students were recorded to have scored more than 90 per cent. “We have not been able to find the marks of students from a Wakad school due to a technical glitch. Once that becomes clear, we are hopeful that more students will be added to the above-90 per cent club,” he said.
A total of 2,239 students from 18 PCMC schools had appeared for the SSC exam this year, said Ambavane. Of these, 1,891 had passed. “This year, the pass percentage is 85 — three per cent more than last year,” he said.
The PCMC also awards cash prizes to private school students from Pimpri-Chinchwad. However, private school students get only Rs 10,000 for scoring between 85 and 89 per cent, and Rs 15,000 for scoring 90 per cent. Terming it a discriminatory practice, activist Maruti Bhapkar said, “Students who have secured 90 per cent and are from poor backgrounds should get the Rs one lakh award. PCMC needs to check the financial background of the students of private schools as well.”
Parents, too, echoed similar views. Nandu Ghode, a resident of Kasarwadi who works as a driver, said his daughter Vaishnavi, who has secured 92 per cent, wants to become an engineer. “We don’t want to deprive her from pursuing her dreams. But we will need money for further studies. What is the harm if PCMC gives Rs one lakh award to private school students from poor families?,” he asked.
A student of Vidya Vikas School, Vaishnavi said she was confident of securing over 90 per cent. “My dream is to become an engineer. My parents, too, want me to pursue my dream. I will work hard to make my family proud,” she said.
BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap said the policy was aimed at awarding civic school students who were from economically weaker sections. “We will discuss the issue about awarding Rs one lakh to private students who belong to economically weaker sections,” he added.
BJP General Secretary Sarang Kamtekar said, from this year, the PCMC has decided to help students belonging to economically weaker sections in different ways — by providing them books and financial assistance for competitive exams. “Besides, we will also provide them assistance, if they want to join coaching classes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sambhaji Ahiwale of the PCMC town planning department said, last year, the PCMC had awarded cash prizes amounting to Rs 5 crore to over 4,000 students of PCMC-run and private schools. Students of private schools will have to submit an application at the PCMC office, once the scheme is announced, he said. An official said the scheme will be announced next month.